Laughter is a physical and emotional response to stimulus, that manifests as a complex physiological process involving the activation of multiple areas of the brain, the release of endorphins, and the contraction of various muscles in the body, particularly those in the face, chest, and abdomen.
Laughter can range from a polite chuckle to a full belly laugh, can be spontaneous or intentional, and it can be triggered by a wide variety of stimuli.
When we laugh, the release of endorphins is triggered, helping us feel good and reduce feelings of pain and stress. It is perhaps less well-known that laughter can also boost the immune system, improve cardiovascular health, and increase social bonding and connection with others.
BENEFITS OF LAUGHTER
- Reduces Stress
Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which can help reduce feelings of stress and tension in the body.
- Boosts the Immune System
Studies have shown that laughter can increase the production of antibodies and activate immune cells, which can help strengthen the immune system.
- Improves Cardiovascular Health
Laughter can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.
- Promotes Social Connection
Laughter is a social activity that can help strengthen bonds with others and improve relationships.
- Reduces Pain
Laughter can stimulate the production of natural painkillers, which can help reduce feelings of pain and discomfort.
PRACTICING LAUGHTER: Laughter Yoga and Meditation
It is perhaps instinctive that one can laugh and focus on happiness by watching a funny movie or TV show, spending time with friends or family who make you laugh, or attending a comedy show or improv class. In addition, activities specifically focusing on the physical act itself are gaining popularity around the world.
Laughter yoga involves intentional laughter exercises and breathing techniques to promote relaxation and stress reduction, and laughter meditation specifically focusses on the physical sensations of laughter in the body, which can help promote relaxation and stress reduction. Both these practices can be regularised as a solo activity or in a group, depending on your comfort level.
Remember, laughter is a natural and enjoyable way to improve your mental and physical health!